Almost finished the 10 thread flat braids

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May 102012

At last, I have almost finished the flat 10 thread experiments. One of them has been done, undone and redone countless times.

I found the structure of it interesting – when I first made it, the front made me think of a ladder, and I could see gaps through the braid between the rungs. Next time I made it, these rungs had disappeared and the braid cross section had changed from a semicircle to a trapezoid.

This frustrated me for a long time – what had I done differently the second time? How would I describe how to make it so people would see the braid they expected?

Eventually I realised that the key difference was the tension on the threads in one particular move. First time round, I had taken all the threads across the centre of the marudai. Later on, I was sitting rather than kneeling, my arms were lower, and I was more inclined to take the threads around the outside of the marudai. And that was enough to make the difference.

Looking at Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise (vol 1), some of the braids have instructions to drop the threads rather than put them down. Experiments with this braid showed me that this had the same effect as taking the threads round the sides. The threads involved had just crossed at the front of the braid, so if they were pulled tighter across by dropping or movement, they pulled the front of the braid closer together.

Personally I like the wider form better, and this will be the one I use for Marudai Painter, but I have sometimes found that pulling the ends of the braid apart loses the ladder structure, and the narrower form returns. So I think that the narrower form is more stable, and probably the one to aim for, but if you have a use for a braid where it is never put under tension, the wider form will do just fine.

This braid is now on our website at